Simple Guidelines for Saving Your Own Little Corner of the Planet

You too can make a difference in slowing the warming of our planet. Stand with the American cities and states that have taken initiatives, and you’ll save your own small corner of the world. Here’s how:

Food Transportation Is Not the Culprit.

It’s food production—not transportation—that is responsible for most carbon emissions. Raising cattle and sheep for meat and dairy is incredibly more carbon intensive than raising fish and chicken.

If your household substitutes chicken, fish and eggs for 30 percent of the calories you’re consuming from dairy and red meat, you’ll save more carbon than you would by eating only locally-grown food for a year.

Cut the Impact of Your Daily Commute.

Scientists say Americans burn about 10 times more carbon dioxide each year than we should if we want to save the planet from widespread coastal flooding or collapsing the food supply. Consider the average amount each person should burn per year over a lifetime, or what scientists call the “carbon budget.”

Driving alone to work each day burns up more than your entire carbon budget for the year. Think of the ways you can cut the effect of your commute: share a ride, take the bus, bicycle.

Don’t Let Good Food Go Bad.

Too much American food—as much as 40 percent—goes to waste. You’ll notice that food production is a big part of our carbon load, and wasting food just adds to the amount of production. Cut out the waste by planning menus before you grocery shop, and avoid impulse buying by sticking to your shopping list.

Cut down on portion sizes if you notice your family leaves a lot of leftovers. Don’t let food go bad; freeze before it spoils.

Go the Extra Mile for Gas Mileage

Improve your gas mileage. Want to see an average carbon savings equal to what you’d save from eating only local foods all year? Keep your tires inflated and your engine tuned up for a 7 percent savings in miles per gallon. Add to that obeying the speed limit, and you’ll gain an additional improvement of more than 30 percent.

Trade in a gas-guzzling 15-mile-per-gallon S.U.V. for a 35-m.p.g. sedan, and within two years, you save more than the carbon cost of manufacturing the newer, more gas efficient car. Just don’t add an unneeded second car to your garage.

Recycle. Better Yet, Don’t Buy in the First Place.

Buy less, waste less. Anything you recycle means one less thing that will be produced and one less thing that winds up in a landfill. Investigate the value of your recycling and focus on recycling that does the most good. The recycling process consumes energy, too.

Think about whether you’ll use something before you buy. Avoid adding to the unnecessary consumption of raw materials.

It Is Not Fido’s Fault.

Dogs and cats eat mostly meat. Meat production is extremely carbon-intensive. Ergo, your pets must be driving up carbon emissions, right? Wrong.

Pets aren’t dining out on prime rib. Most pet food is made from meat that’s a byproduct of human meat consumption. Dogs and cats are getting the leftovers that’s unfit or unwanted for people. People, not their pets, drive meat production.

Read more: What You Can Do About Climate Change


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